The last word in festive wines – part four


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

Chris Pollington and Martyn Rolph of our Fine Wine team find no shortage of exciting wines to savour this Christmas from Italy and Spain

Chris Pollington on Italy

What I choose to drink with the main Christmas meal has changed over the 20 years or so that I’ve been in the wine trade. The medium to full-bodied style of Claret was my wine of choice initially with turkey or goose, but as my tastes changed I went initially with the ethereal quality of red Burgundy, which has now segued into Nebbiolo, from its home territory of Barolo. The 2009 Barolo from the talented and dedicated Mario Fontana offers me the best of both worlds, with a wonderfully perfumed and complex bouquet, followed by crunchy red fruit on the palate, with power, balance and energy. It is a real treat for such a special day and makes a wonderful match for duck, goose or even turkey with all its trimmings.

Martyn Rolph on Spain

Spain is certainly not an area to overlook when selecting some suitably-themed bottles for Christmas. An obvious place to look is amongst the traditionally-styled wines of Rioja – classic notes of vanilla, clove, cinnamon and sweet spices can be found here.  Whether enjoying with turkey, lamb, duck or goose, or simply drinking it in front of a roaring fire, the 2004 Gran Reserva 904, La Rioja Alta, is exceptional; in fact, I would argue it is one of the most popular and best-value releases of 2014. A fine Priorat, meanwhile, would be a wonderful match for a rib of beef, offering darker, richer fruit alongside additional structure and weight. The wines of Sangenís i Vaqué are a fine introduction here. A final recommendation is for the Ribera del Duero property, Pago de los Capellanes, whose wines combine concentration with precision and silky refinement. They are not to be missed.

The wines of Austria, Alsace and Germany inspired yesterday’s chapter, whereas tomorrow we look to the New World for the best bottles to furnish the festive table.